A motorcycle ride is an unbeatable experience in the open air with the open road spanning out ahead. Unfortunately, the same unenclosed, two-wheeled design that makes a ride so thrilling also leaves riders vulnerable to severe injuries in a motorcycle crash. Despite the comparatively low percentage of motorcycles on the road with other vehicles, motorcyclists account for a significant percentage of traffic accident fatalities and serious injuries.
Most accidents—including motorcycle accidents—involve two vehicles in a collision. After the accident, an investigation determines which driver was negligent or reckless and caused the accident, leaving them liable for damages. But what if there wasn’t a collision but a motorcycle still crashes due to a driver’s negligence? What is a no-contact motorcycle accident and how does it impact liability?
Understanding No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents
A no-contact motorcycle accident isn’t an uncommon phenomenon in Texas and elsewhere. Sometimes called a phantom collision or an accident caused by a phantom driver, a no-contact accident occurs when one driver’s actions cause another to crash without a collision occurring. In a motorcycle accident, this can be deadly or cause grave injury to the motorcyclist. Motorcycle riders are at extra risk of no-contact accidents because the two-wheeled design of a motorcycle makes them subject to tipping when a rider makes a sudden swerve or other maneuver to avoid a collision. In a no-contact motorcycle accident, a driver’s careless or reckless action causes a motorcyclist to swerve or brake, resulting in a crash even if the other vehicle didn’t hit them.
Causes of No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents
No-contact motorcycle accidents or phantom driver crashes almost always occur due to another driver’s negligence or reckless actions behind the wheel. Drivers who share the road with motorcycles must remain vigilant and alert to the presence of unprotected motorcyclists and take all reasonable measures to avoid causing an accident. No-contact motorcycle accidents often result from the following:
- Drivers making unsafe lane changes
- A driver who merges onto a highway without taking care to avoid an approaching motorcycle
- A driver drifts into a motorcyclist’s lane
- A driver makes an unsafe turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle
- Unsafe passing
- Failure to yield the right of way to a motorcyclist in an intersection
Any of the above negligent driving actions could cause a motorcyclist to swerve to avoid a collision. Swerving and other defensive maneuvers can cause a motorcycle to tip, lay down, or drive off the road or into a guardrail or other obstacle even though the at-fault driver did not make contact with the motorcycle.
Liability in No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents
Proving a negligent driver’s liability in a no-contact motorcycle accident can be challenging. In the best-case scenario, the driver who causes an accident may stop and help, and may even admit fault by saying something like, “I didn’t see him until it was too late.” But at other times, the negligent driver may leave the scene either purposely or because they may not realize they’ve caused a motorcyclist to crash.
Proving a negligent driver liable for damages after a no-contact motorcycle accident often takes a diligent investigation examining any available traffic camera footage and eyewitness testimony. Some motorcyclists use dash cameras and may capture evidence of a driver’s negligence on video. In some cases, there may be enough evidence to identify the other driver who may or may not know that they caused a motorcyclist to crash.
If the other driver isn’t identified, the injured motorcyclist may have to rely on their own insurance coverage to pay for their property damage and medical expenses.